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FEIN Meaning: What Is It and How Do You Get One?

FEIN MeaningFEIN Meaning
min read
August 21, 2023

If you're a business owner, you've experienced the massive volume of tax requirements you have to remember.

One of the ways to stay on the right track is to apply for a FEIN for your business.

But what, exactly, is a FEIN? And do you really have to have one? Keep reading to learn what a FEIN is and how to apply for yours.

What Is a Federal Employer Identification Number?

The federal tax identification number (FEIN) is a unique identifier assigned to most businesses in the U.S. by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). FEINs are nine-digit numbers used to track company tax payments. You may also see them referred to as employer identification numbers (EINs) or business tax IDs.

Think of a FEIN as your business's social security number (SSN). Your FEIN appears on all your tax returns, and you can also use it for banking and legal purposes.


The federal tax identification number (FEIN) has the following format: XX-XXXXXXX (or 12-3456789).

Where Is the FEIN Number on Form W-2?

Your FEIN should be entered in box b of Form W-2. On Form W-2, the FEIN is called EIN.


Is FEIN and Tax ID the Same Thing?

A FEIN is one of many types of tax IDs.

A tax ID, or tax identification number (TIN), is a blanket term for tax ID numbers and includes:

  • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
  • Social Security number (SSN)
  • Adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN)
  • Individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN)
  • Preparer taxpayer identification number (PTIN)

A FEIN is a specific tax identification number used to identify a business entity instead of an individual.

Is a FEIN the Same as an SSN?

FEIN and SSN have similar uses, but they are not the same. Social Security numbers (SSNs) are assigned to every U.S. citizen shortly after birth by the Social Security Administration. Because they are unique and everybody has one, the IRS uses SSNs for individual tax tracking.

In contrast, the IRS issues FEINs for businesses since they don't have SSNs. 

Still, you can use your SSN instead of a FEIN if you manage a single-person LLC or a sole proprietorship with no excise tax liabilities or employees. Excise taxes are levied on certain types of goods and services, such as tobacco and gas.

Do You Need a FEIN Outside of Paying Taxes?

Besides paying state and federal taxes, you'll also need a FEIN for most business bank accounts and to get a business license in most locations.

Applying for a FEIN should be one of the first steps you take when creating your business.

What Is the FEIN Number for Unemployment?

When paying your Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) taxes, you typically use your nine-digit EIN as your account number.

FUTA is a payroll tax employers pay to fund unemployment programs in the U.S.

How Do You Get a Federal Employer Identification Number?

To get a FEIN, you need to apply for one with the IRS.

Before applying for a FEIN, the IRS sets two conditions for eligibility:

  • Your primary business should be located in the U.S. or its territories.
  • You must have a valid personal taxpayer identification number (ITIN, SSN).

The IRS encourages you to apply for an EIN online if you're eligible. You can get your FEIN from the IRS website for free at:

You must complete your application in a single session. The sessions expire after 15 minutes of inactivity, so ensure you have all your documents ready before you start. The IRS issues you an EIN as soon as you complete your online application.

While the IRS prefers online applications, you can apply for your EIN by fax or through the mail. 

Apply for a FEIN by Fax

Fill out the IRS Form SS-4 and fax the application to 855-641-6935 if your primary business residence is in one of the 50 states or Washington D.C.

Or, send the application to 855-215-1627 if you don't have a primary place of business in any U.S. state. If you're outside the U.S., fax the application to 304-707-9471.

Apply for a FEIN by Mail

You can send your FEIN application through the mail by completing a Form SS-4 and sending it to the IRS.

Businesses should mail form SS-4 to:

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

Note: If you don't have legal residence in any U.S. state or are mailing the form from outside the U.S., replace "EIN Operation" with "EIN International Operation."

How To Find Your FEIN

Have you applied for and received your business tax ID but misplaced it? Don't apply for another FEIN. 

Use the following tips to find your FEIN:

  • Check your previously filed returns. They should have your EIN listed.
  • Find the computer-generated notice the IRS gave you when you applied for your FEIN. The IRS issues this notice as a receipt of your EIN.
  • Contact your state agency or bank if you used your business tax ID to apply for any state or local license or to open a bank account.
  • Call the Business and Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933 to ask the IRS to search for your EIN. 

Get Your FEIN Today

Now that you know more about FEIN, make sure to get a tax ID for your business. 

Apart from being a legal requirement, a FEIN can also help your company—from adding credibility to your business to opening a business bank account and protecting you against identity theft. The application process is also fairly simple and free, so it's a win-win.

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